And now…two e-books: Secrets of David R. Hawkins: Map of Consciousness and Secrets of David R. Hawkins: Hawkins Applied Kinesiology, the first showing how [Hawkins] and Lester [Levenson] got the Map of Con from — Oh No! — none other than L Ron Hubbard…and the second showing the Hawk is too far out even for the International College of Applied Kinesiology, and exposing some cult tendencies. ~Sarlo’s Guru Rating Service
Falsehood: Hawkins Applied Kinesiology (a.k.a. kinesiology, k-testing, consciousness research, etc.) — muscle testing for truth — works.
Truth: The International College of Applied Kinesiology, its current and past two presidents, Dr. John Diamond, many devoted Hawkins students, as well as scientists, all know that it does not work.
Falsehood: The Map of Consciousness is a discovery that represents a new paradigm.
Falsehood: Mother Teresa, Sam Walton, and Lee Iacocca endorsed Power vs. Force.
Truth: As discovered by Hawkins’ biographer, Scott Jeffrey, and detailed in Power vs. Truth, they did not. The Mother Teresa of Calcutta Center agrees that Mother Teresa did not endorse Dr. Hawkins’ work. Hay House continues to use an altered quotation of hers to sell Hawkins’ books.
Falsehood: Scientific American and The New Yorker endorsed Power vs. Force.
Truth: Following Mr. Jeffrey’s revelations, Hay House and Veritas Publishing (Dr. Hawkins’ self-publishing company in Sedona, Arizona reportedly operated by Mrs. Susan Hawkins) now assert that the precise quotations initially attributed to Sam Walton and Mother Teresa instead come from these publications. However, they do not offer endorsements as such, as confirmed by a writer for Scientific American.
Falsehood: Hawkins established worldwide study groups.
Truth: The majority of these study groups are in the United States, followed by some in Canada, Australia, and several other countries. According to our sources, a number of these groups have only one member, several have disbanded, and most seem to have but a handful each. Apparently Dr. Hawkins did not establish them.
[Compare The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion by Jonathan Haidt]
David R. Hawkins’ book, Power vs. Force (1995), was initially considered by many readers to be supporting peace over such actions as litigation. (Numerous people assumed that Dr. Hawkins was opposed to war, for example, though he later supported the preemptive invasion of Iraq.) Veritas Publishing, Hawkins’ self-publishing company in Sedona, Arizona, did not live up to this ideal, however. The New England Institute of Religious Research and Wikipedia were both threatened with a lawsuit if they did not remove from their respective websites factual information regarding Hawkins. Both nonprofit organizations, they chose to remove the content rather than pay to defend themselves. Hawkins’ biographer, Scott Jeffrey, has described what went on behind the scenes!
Less well known is that Veritas Publishing has threatened a number of websites with legal action if they did not remove their respective postings of the Map of Consciousness. (Veritas charges $6 for the plagiarized — from Hubbard through Levenson — work, so apparently they do not appreciate it being offered for free.)
Following are a few examples.
IMAGE REMOVED – (after receiving the most aggressive legal request of my life! …)
Hoo boy! If I thought the lawyer letter was not nice, this next one was not nice x 10…From what I hear, [Hawkins] is creating many enemies with his heavy handed tactics that threaten and use force — and demonstrate no knowledge of power.
Update Feb 7, 2012: Unfortunately, Veritas Publishing demanded that I remove the image and I’ve since taken it off PE. For an organization that tries to preach the concept of Power vs. Force, it surprises me they would resort to forceful threats and solutions (rather than actions that resonate with the “power” levels of consciousness) to achieve their aim. I would have easily removed it if they had simply asked, vs. issuing a e-mail with threats of lawsuits and some pretty heavy and angst-filled words…
Keep in mind that these are people who were intending to promote Dr. Hawkins’ work! Further, the first example is from a lawyer, who desires consciousness in the practice of law, and states that the letter she received was the worst she’s ever seen. She apparently demonstrates more integrity and spirituality than Veritas, though, by forgiving them and desiring to work with them in the future!
We predict that Chris Dierkes‘ excellent article, “Against High Vibrations: A Critique of New Age Spirituality,” may be one of the next targets on Veritas’ list, since it includes a picture of the Map of Consciousness:
[Hawkins’ dualistic] scale…ends up causing a lot [of] well-meaning but naive spiritual seekers extraordinary amounts of unnecessary suffering…[I]t’s actually not good to only have sunny days. “It’s always a sunny day over there“ was not a compliment. It was a very important insight and a kind of warning.
Indeed. William James has made similar observations. In the nondualistic, balanced, and healthful words of Buddhist sage Nagarjuna, “Samsara and Nirvana are one.” It is the duality which seems to create the suffering. Enlightenment is beyond suffering but is non-separate from it. The lotus flower grows in, and is non-separate from, the mud. All is One. This is a deep insight into the nature of Reality, which Hawkins’ work may seemingly obscure from our immediate sight.
To lighten the mood after seeing so much “FORCE“ from Veritas Publishing, which is reportedly operated by Mrs. Susan Hawkins, following is an instance of another Hay House personal development author, Steve Pavlina, who initially endorsed Hawkins’ Map and work (in 2005) but later changed his mind (by 2011). Pavlina’s “New and Improved Map of Conscious Growth” ranges from the lowest level of consciousness (“Complete idiots”) to the highest level of enlightenment (“Canadians”). Pavlina muses
Have you noticed that each time someone creates a linear map of consciousness (i.e. a series of defined tiers that you can progress through), they almost always put themselves on the 2nd or 3rd rung from the top, with the top tier being the idealized version of their values?…There is no universal, tiered, linear map of conscious growth. There is simply expansion, with no direction being more or less enlightened than any other.
Hawkins placed some of his own work, I: Reality and Subjectivity, at 999.8 on a scale of 1,000. 1,000 is the level of Jesus Christ, the Buddha, and Krishna, among but a few others. Many of Hawkins’ students call him “Lord,” and refer to his teachings as “His” teachings. Some claim that he is the Second Coming of Christ. Indeed, “Gloria in excelsis Deo!” — the dedication found at the beginning of each of Dr. Hawkins’ books — are the words the angels sang when they welcomed Christ into the world: “Glory to God in the highest” (Luke 2:14). Perhaps Hawkins was hinting at something? We are unsure. But, some followers are convinced he is the “real deal.” And not just the real deal in some sort of Adyashanti or Eckhart Tolle (insert here your favorite contemporary spiritual teacher) way, but rather on the rarefied level of the Avatar, such as Jesus.
Based on Dr. Hawkins’ personal Hawkins Applied Kinesiology calibrations performed on his wife’s outstretched arm, his own work is also considered to be more spiritually powerful than highly regarded sages, such as Sri Ramana Maharshi, Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, and Huang Po (Huangbo Xiyun of the Hongzhou school of Chan); contain more truth than great religious texts, for instance, the Bible; and be far more astute and surpass the mere intellect of every genius of history, including Newton and Einstein (“um, that was Hawk-ward“).
Those who are unconvinced by this seemingly grandiose suggestion have come up with various ways of explaining the phenomenon, ranging from self-deception (or simply being mistaken) to representing some sort of nefarious scheme orchestrated by a type of “New World Order” cabal. (It seems possible that a basic commitment to neoconservatism — for example, Dr. Hawkins subscribed to The Weekly Standard, an American neoconservative opinion magazine — might have done the trick; but, at this time, this is far from certain.)
What’s the truth? We may humbly submit that Hawkins likely does not warrant such a lofty status (or, conversely, we all equally share a lofty status), but as to the specific details, at this time we are unsure.
(Note: We encourage people to read Mr. Jeffrey’s discoveries regarding the finances of Veritas Publishing — the entire Hawkins product catalog of which apparently runs about $10,000 — and the Institute for Spiritual Research, Inc., the latter of which alone has amassed around $2 million. The IRS has been informed about the Institute’s alleged for-profit activities seemingly concealed behind a nonprofit facade, and we will have to wait and see how the IRS responds to this information. If you are also concerned, please consider notifying the IRS as well; the more people who offer the IRS information, the more likely, and perhaps promptly, the IRS will be to investigate this allegation. Thank you!)
[Compare the Bhagavad Gita]
Fran Grace is the current editor of Dr. Hawkins’ books. Dr. Grace is a professor of religious studies at the University of Redlands. Grace appears to be an admirably dedicated and sincere spiritual aspirant with much to offer the world, as well as a highly regarded professor and esteemed colleague, and has done rather compelling work. For example, she has helped to integrate contemplative and meditative techniques into university instruction, and has even been featured on one of our favorite programs ever, C-SPAN’s Booknotes, to discuss her biography of “Saloon Smasher” Carry A. Nation. Yet, Dr. Grace’s devotion to Dr. Hawkins in particular has apparently and unfortunately resulted in some less-compelling work. As with her beloved teacher, she seems to have resorted to relying on less-than-integrous (a commonly used Hawkins term denoting integrity) means of legitimizing and promoting his work. These include editing plagiarized work and supporting scientific misconduct, publishing in a predatory journal, permitting fraudulent book endorsements, anonymous demonization of a book by a former Hawkins student, and promoting as a spiritual master akin to Christ or the Buddha an author with a degree-mill doctorate, pseudo-chivalric knighthood, and who used a pseudoscience (muscle testing for truth) to distinguish absolute truths from falsehood, among additional considerations.
Grace had a chapter published in Perceiving the Divine through the Human Body: Mystical Sensuality. This article attributed the Map of Consciousness to David Hawkins, when in fact it was plagiarized from his former teacher Lester Levenson, who in turn seems to have taken it from L. Ron Hubbard of Scientology. Grace appears to have been unaware of this at the time of her writing, although related information was a simple internet search away; and some additional concerning details regarding Hawkins were even discovered by Wikipedians, who most recently deleted his page due to lack of notability (before this time, Hawkins threatened a lawsuit if Wikipedia did not delete his page). Catherine Tomas, a doctoral student at the University of Oxford, whose “research focuses on the epistemic value of mystical testimony as well as the subjectivity of the mystic as testifier,” wrote a review of this book. While finding the book “worth reading” overall, of Grace’s article she wrote:
The article demoralizes the reader through its lack of critical engagement with the material it looks to valorize. The result is neither a convincing mystical testimony nor an academic chapter; rather, the article reads like an evangelical hagiography supported by pseudo-science.
At least the article was published in a proper academic book; though, how it got past the editors is a bit of a mystery. However, Dr. Grace has also apparently followed in the path of her mentor, Dr. Hawkins, who relied on a number of dubious claims to distinction in legitimizing and promoting his work. For example, he received a knighthood in a pseudo-chivalric or self-styled order, the Sovereign Order of the Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem (stating that he was knighted by the “Danish Crown,” which has been disputed by Danish officials), and a doctorate from Columbia Pacific University, an unaccredited correspondence school that was shut down by court order due to having “virtually no academic standards.” Thus he is referred to as “Sir David R. Hawkins, M.D., Ph.D.,” his medical degree (Medical College of Wisconsin, 1953) being respectable (he was a psychiatrist), in addition to being called “Lord” by “His” devotees. Although Dr. Hawkins undoubtedly offered many truths, provided substantial (if alloyed with a type of dogmatic theology) mystical insight, and helped to improve a number of people’s lives (as self-reported by them), this does not seem to negate reasons for concern, just as such reasons do not necessarily vitiate positive experiences (and there have been negative reports as well).
Grace has published a paper on Hawkins (“Beyond Reason: The Certitude of the Mystics from Al-Hallaj to David R. Hawkins” [September 2011]), whether knowingly or unknowingly, in a “predatory” journal, the International Journal of Humanities and Social Science. As with Hawkins’ Ph.D., knighthood, and some other credentials (a full examination of which has been undertaken, the results of which may be published at a later date) the International Journal of Humanities and Social Science appears respectable until one looks closer. This and similar journals “present themselves as standard academic journals but seek to maximise their income from article fees by publishing all submissions with little or no scrutiny.”
This is reminiscent of Hawkins’ doctorate from CPU, where, for instance, a “Ph.D. dissertation written in Spanish was approved by four faculty who cannot speak the language,” as well as his knighthood from an order considered to be “so unreal…that no one in his right mind would be taken in by it” (Hawkins seems to have paid $1,400 for the honor after seeing an advertisement in an “expensive glossy magazine” designed to “arouse susceptible Americans”). Oxford fellow Stephen Blamey, for example, was listed as a member of the journal’s editorial board; however, Blamey stated, “I’d never even heard of the journal.” Furthermore, according to Jeffrey Beall, “I am overwhelmed by the amount of plagiarism I see in predatory publishers’ journals [generally]. They are also blurring the line between science and pseudo-science.”
Dr. Grace is currently working on several book projects related to Dr. Hawkins. We will have to wait and see the quality of her forthcoming work, but if the above examples are any indication, it seems we regrettably may expect further “evangelical hagiography supported by pseudo-science.”
In the meantime, Grace seems to share the sentiment of many of her fellow Hawkins students that strategic advisor, coach, author, and longtime Hawkins adherent, colleague, and biographer, Scott Jeffrey — for daring to think for himself based on evidence and in apostatic and non-hagiographic terms regarding his former teacher — is “LUCIFERIC.”
[Update: Shortly after this article was posted, an Amazon.com review written by “Anon” was suddenly deleted. Anon, apparently without offering a single kind word regarding him, asserted that she truly believes Mr. Jeffrey is luciferic based on Hawkins’ teachings, which purportedly indicates that he distorted the truth (or, more precisely, the context in which the truth was stated). This is a common new religious movement tactic of criticizing in black-and-white extremes anyone with a varying perspective or who brings to light factual information at odds with the official hagiography. Although the lengthy review was online for more than two years (we still have a copy, from which we may quote in the future), it is nevertheless worth noting that it seems to have been written not long after the unfortunate passing of Dr. David R. Hawkins, with which the biography’s release happened to coincide… Incidentally, this is all the more curious because a correspondent had an email exchange with Grace in late 2013, expressing concern for Jeffrey and his seeming to feel betrayed by Hawkins, and she responded that she had not read Jeffrey’s work — although Hawkins and his teachings had benefited thousands of people — and suggested that, if one is worried about Jeffrey, surrender him into the care of God, as Hawkins always advised people do for others. Note that the deleted review was for Doctor of Truth — a generally innocuous biography that most readers do not find threatening (a timeline of the drama surrounding its release may be found here) — not Power vs. Truth (which probably she genuinely hadn’t read at that time), a critical work which at this writing is no longer being published, possibly due to the seeming cyberbullying and extreme criticism Jeffrey received for conscientiously speaking out about his former teacher and group. Thankfully, according to Anon, in Hawkins’ particular energy-level theology, being Luciferic — while decidedly still evil (though more difficult to discern) — is not nearly so bad as being Satanic!]
[Update II: Upon closer examination of parts of the deleted review by Anon, we have found that she labeled Jeffrey’s book, not himself, as having prideful/luciferic energy. Nevertheless, Dr. Hawkins has stated that the energy level of a book is indicative of that of the author. Thus, Jeffrey himself would have been “luciferic,” while reviews by others contain more clear examples of ad hominem statements, just as Hawkins’ book at level 999.8 out of 1,000 suggests that he was essentially the new Christ, Buddha or Krishna. And Anon did state that the biography constituted a “disgusting betrayal,” which again seems to cast Jeffrey and Hawkins in the respective roles of Judas and Christ. It is our contention that neither deserves such a polarized characterization. Anon noted, “I know who and what Dr. Hawkins is and the truth of his work is without question.” It seems to us that this may represent a type of fundamentalist certainty or blind faith, rather than mystical certitude, which — we agree with Dr. Grace and her fine research on historical mystics — is real. Thank you.]
Grace reportedly indirectly referenced Jeffrey’s biography of Hawkins, Doctor of Truth, as a moment of “greatest betrayal” for Hawkins. (However, according to A Course in Miracles, which was strongly recommended by Dr. Hawkins, even the worst of betrayals is illusory.)
While anyone may believe whatever she or he would like, this does not seem to make it appropriate for a professional to use her position of authority to promote her controversial beliefs to her students and in so-called predatory journals, conceal any apparent wrongdoing such as academic dishonesty or scientific misconduct on the part of Hawkins, and seemingly band together with fellow believers to apparently anonymously cyberbully into silence any few dissenting and principled voices. Although a professor ought not to tolerate academic dishonesty in an undergraduate, or bullying of a minority voice in her courses, Grace has to date apparently not acknowledged that she follows and promotes a plagiarist with a “diploma mill” Ph.D. and pseudo-chivalric knighthood, a pseudoscientific (by established standards) muscle test for unquestionable “absolute truths,” fraudulent endorsements (including for the 2012 edition of Power vs. Force, which Grace edited), and who appears to have profited from his work in the millions of dollars (this evidently is perceived by believers as authentic success), among other considerations. Rather, she believes Dr. Hawkins to be a perfect master, seemingly something akin to Christ or the Buddha, which his teachings support. While offering a course, professors provide a safe environment in which to explore and civilly express ideas. But in regard to her spiritual teacher, she appears to not only make no effort to stop her group members (she is friends with Mrs. Susan Hawkins of Veritas Publishing, and likely has at least some level of authority or influence — for example, a prompt of hers has circulated among Hawkins students, suggesting a position of authority within the movement and an ability to communicate directly to Hawkins students) but apparently herself has engaged in seeming anonymous cyberbullying — the review of “Anon” was the first of several to label Jeffrey or his work as luciferic, for example (note that there may be additional information related to this that has yet to come to light). (We are writing anonymously, clearly, but hopefully presenting information while not engaging in ad hominem attacks is not seen as bullying. People evidently identify with their beliefs, such that it may feel like a personal attack when their beliefs are questioned, even if that is not the intention.)
Jeffrey was called by Hawkins students not only luciferic for expressing his well-researched views and direct personal experiences, but also a spiritual snake and a Judas, was told to “get a life,” and threatened by some nebulous idea of “karma” (as if there is only negative and not positive karma for those who tell their truth and offer facts with the hope of helping others, and no possible negative karma for condemning those who do so), among many more presumably hurtful statements. (For some extant comments, please see here. Note that we do not know Mr. Jeffrey, nor have we ever met him, nor do we speak for him. These are our own opinions.) This is not appropriate behavior for undergraduates, teenagers, or children, least of all for a professional at an American university with a doctorate from one of our finest institutions, Princeton, and for ostensibly spiritual students. To be sure, Jeffrey’s work received undue criticism largely because of timing (near the time of Hawkins’ passing in late 2012) and perhaps delivery; but his ideas are frequently sound, it seems to us. To the extent that people love one person, appears to be related to the extent to which they dislike or hate detractors of their beloved; and not just in religion and spirituality but also in politics, sports, popular culture and so on. In fact, ironically, this is one of the cute and folksy teachings of Hawkins’: Just because one loves chocolate ice cream does not mean one needs to hate vanilla ice cream. It seems to be something in humanity rather than any particular individual’s personal problem. Nonetheless, there may be something of a more fanatical element in some new religious movements, possibly as if it were a matter of life and death: perhaps seemingly as if the world might fall apart if everyone does not see our leader as perfect. Loyalty is a beautiful virtue; yet, it may go too far in some instances.
I have not been as interested in following Dr. Hawkins’ work over the past three years or so, since my experience and view of where he has gone with it and how he is operating do not carry the same quality as before. This may simply be due to the evolution of his presentation to a broader audience, and the more personality-oriented following he seems to have developed.
Similarly, David Gersten, M.D. — a psychiatrist, holistic physician, composer, and author of the book Are You Getting Enlightened Or Losing Your Mind? — initially endorsed Dr. Hawkins’ work. He received much criticism for doing so, however, both published and in private correspondence. It was not until Dr. Gersten heard that devotees of Dr. Hawkins consider Hawkins to be the Lord, an Avatar, or even the Second Coming of Christ, that he understood why. While still appreciating aspects of Power vs. Force, in correspondence with Gersten in late 2013 (which has yet to be be published elsewhere), Gersten had much to say. Following is a sample:
When I read [Hawkins’] books, one thing that was clear to me is that he has a strong attachment to Christianity (no problem there!) but no deep understanding of Eastern religion, Buddhism, Hinduism, and no idea what the term “avatar” really means. But the thing that first really caught my attention came from a patient who had attended a seminar of his. There was a question and answer period where people would come on stage and ask a question. One woman (I don’t recall the question) asked a pretty simple, neutral question and apparently Hawkins became furious with her (in front of a large crowd), including the comment, “How dare you come on stage and waste my time with such a ridiculous question?” That kind of information tells me a huge amount about a person. That’s either an incredibly bad day…or a man who is not very evolved. I vaguely recall him saying that [I: Reality and Subjectivity] calibrated [with Hawkins Applied Kinesiology] at 998 [i.e., 999.8 out of 1000 on the Map of Consciousness]. Yes, that is an absurd comment, which does reveal a lot about the man…I didn’t realize the degree of controversy.
We wholeheartedly thank Dr. Gersten for sharing his perspective. Alas, this was not an isolated incident. While we understand that Hawkins was typically a friendly, humorous, and even loving, if gruff, individual — especially toward his students, if not his detractors or people who questioned his methods (e.g. Dr. Robert Todd Carroll of The Skeptic’s Dictionary) — we have heard additional similar stories. For instance, Hawkins is also said to have reduced a woman to tears in front of a large audience. Hawkins may have been influenced by the apparently abrasive style of his favorite television pundit, “bellwether of integrity” Bill O’Reilly of Fox News.
Our best wishes go out to Dr. Grace and her students at the University of Redlands, whom she has been introducing to the Map of Consciousness of David Hawkins (i.e., the plagiarized work of Hubbard, apparently through Levenson — Hawkins’ former spiritual teacher — if not directly), in addition to introducing Dr. Hawkins’ work to the community at large. (Grace also strongly endorses — as the book with which to introduce Hawkins’ teachings to new readers — Hawkins’ Letting Go: The Pathway of Surrender, which she edited and which further plagiarizes Levenson’s work. That’s the Power of Love–the type of love that idealizes a teacher regardless of available evidence, and condemns his perceived enemies.) May you all be well, and perhaps Dr. Grace’s colleagues at the University of Redlands may help to ensure that her undergraduates do not also become devotees of Hawkins, who is openly referred to by his followers as the “Lord.” (For example, “This site is dedicated to Lord Dr. David R, Hawkins.”)
Bear in mind the extraordinary nature of this claim. While such titles are not uncommon in several Eastern religions (e.g., Buddhism, Jainism, and especially Hinduism), in the West we have had popes, priests, monks, nuns, mystics, prophets, Church Fathers, bishops, cardinals, saints, and so forth — but only one Lord (God or Jesus). Is this a justified title for Hawkins? If so, why? Based on what exactly? Might we at least consider before leaping?
Hawkins taught that “the mind has no capacity to tell truth from falsehood,” and “All opinion is vanity.” Hawkins students have even considered Hawkins Applied Kinesiology — pseudoscientific muscle testing for truth, used as a purported direct pipeline to God — as a possible justification for “immoral or even illegal activities because their muscle testing would tell them to do so,” including “killing somebody” (whether this meant murder, euthanasia, or something else, was not clarified). This according to Jakob Merchant, a longtime Hawkins student who thanks “My spiritual teacher & Lord, Dr. David R. Hawkins” on his website, and who was quoted by Dr. Grace in her “new foreword” to Power vs. Force (2012) as a person who has had success raising his children influenced by Dr. Hawkins’ teachings.
We do not judge Dr. Grace. People have emotional, psychological, social and other requirements aside from the merely rational or logical (Grace has written of such matters, though we do not wish to make this personal). However, while her beliefs are tolerated — though with critical consideration — her harsh criticism of dissenting, conscientious voices, publishing in a predatory journal, apparent allowance (if not approval) of fraudulent endorsements, and support and concealment of Dr. Hawkins’ academic dishonesty or scientific misconduct, are not tolerated.
We only hope that this will turn out to be merely a temporary blip on an otherwise unblemished and, indeed, notable academic career of a loving, compassionate, and rational person, Dr. Fran Grace.
A song by fellow luciferic spiritual snake judas jealous name-seeking superior self-righteous pompous BIG ego profit–hungry lame garbage self–important obsessive crazy prideful shallow intellectual swine!
[Compare The Origin of Satan: How Christians Demonized Jews, Pagans, and Heretics by Elaine Pagels]
However, Dr. Dyer, a much-beloved motivational speaker and proponent of the controversial New Thought movement, has also endorsed a variety of questionable teachers, from Sathya Sai Baba to John of God, and from Esther and Jerry Hicks to Gary Renard. Additionally, he seems to have implied that he believes he may have been Saint Francis in a past life, and thinks (or his “ego” thinks) he should rank as being more spiritually influential than the Dalai Lama.
While Dr. Hawkins’ claim to being endorsed by Mother Teresa, Sam Walton, and Lee Iacocca has been disproved by his biographer, Scott Jeffrey, Dr. Dyer’s endorsement of Power vs. Force (Hay House, 2002) continues to stand: “Perhaps the most important and significant book I’ve read in the past ten years.” (Which makes one wonder what books he typically reads; although, in fairness, the book would seem exhilarating if one didn’t have all of the facts — on the order of one of the most important books ever written, actually, which appears to be why some people “rush to gush.”) Furthermore, Hay House still uses an altered statement of Mother Teresa’s to sell Dr. Hawkins’ books, despite the Mother Teresa of Calcutta Center confirming that Mother Teresa did not intend to endorse Dr. Hawkins’ work (she seems to have merely responded cordially to an unsolicited manuscript of Power vs. Force sent to her by Dr. Hawkins).
Dyer, Hawkins, the Hickses, and Renard are all published by Hay House. In fact, Dyer is responsible for Hawkins being added to the Hay House roster in the first place. Prior to this time, Hawkins merely self-published his books through Vertias Publishing (veritas meaning truth in Latin, though Veritas Publishing does not have the best track record when it comes to truth). Incidentally, the Hickses — Esther being the channeler of “Abraham” — use a similar scale (2004) to Hawkins’ Map of Consciousness (1995), which likewise seems to derive — whether directly or indirectly — from L. Ron Hubbard (1951).
Yet, Gary Renard, himself a controversial teacher and interpreter of A Course in Miracles, has also criticized Dr. Hawkins’ work in his Hay House book Your Immortal Reality: How to Break the Cycle of Birth and Death:
One of the things [Hawkins] does is use [Hawkins applied] kinesiology, which is muscle testing, to test the truthfulness of statements … making a kind of lie-detector test out of it… The hidden ego hook is that now the student’s attention is being put on the wrong place, focused on an illusory test of an illusory thing in an illusory world… [Hawkins] calibrates different teachings at various levels, from 1 to 1,000. People love it… [But] the Course [states]…’Spirit has no levels, and all conflict arises from the concept of levels.’… Enlightenment has no levels…things like tests and calibrations distract the student…and all it really leads to is a lot of wasted time… Add the lie-detector test to the mix and you have a lifetime’s worth of distractions… Don’t be discouraged by those who borrow from the Course instead of teaching it.
It is curious that Dr. Hawkins would even assent to being published by Hay House, though it is actually a natural fit, since likely many of its authors he would rank as negative/false or calibrate below 200 (which, ironically, derives from Hubbard’s below 2.0). As we recall, Hay House authors Doreen Virtue, and definitely Deepak Chopra (who has also been featured on PBS), for instance, Hawkins calibrated as being below 200. Hawkins disagreed with the “astral circus,” and probably much of the Hay House catalog he would place under this peculiar heading. (We confess that we are unsure precisely what astral means, though we don’t believe it has, oddly, ever been given strict definition.)
Given the quality of Dr. Dyer’s endorsements and the work of Hay House authors generally, are Wayne Dyer and Hay House truly appropriate for PBS? (Especially considering that there are far-more-pressing mysteries to be solved?)
Should Dr. Dyer actually get a free pass since he is not apparently aligned with a particular established religion, though he is committed to a New Thought belief system? Let’s not forget that Dyer introduced David R. Hawkins to the world on PBS: a medical doctor (psychiatrist) who believed that organic cigarette smoking is not harmful, climate change is not human-originated (he was a Fox News viewer, considering Bill O’Reilly to be a “bellwether of integrity“), and “the mind has no capacity to tell truth from falsehood.” Dr. Hawkins even stated that he experienced a temptation to become “Ruler of the Universe” — a far cry from Christ’s temptation of political power over the kingdoms of the world, which Hawkins appears to have attempted to emulate (maybe the next person to do so will state that she was tempted to become ruler of the multiverse).
Followers of “His” teachings consider Dr. Hawkins as the Avatar and refer to him as “Lord,” while adhering to the pseudoscientific divination technique Hawkins Applied Kinesiology and wondering whether it might justify “immoral and illegal” actions such as “killing somebody” (which might have meant murder, euthanasia, or something else — no clarification was offered). We are by no means suggesting that Dr. Dyer or PBS saw this coming, but a little more investigation by Dyer and/or PBS in the beginning — e.g. regarding Hawkins’ endorsements, doctorate, methods, and knighthood — might have stemmed the tide before it got so far out of hand. This is not asking too much: Wikipedians discovered most of this on their own.
It took Dr. Hawkins’ biographer, Scott Jeffrey — a close confidante and devotee for about a decade — to discover the truth of Hawkins’ endorsements nearly 20 years after the initial self-publication of Power vs. Force (Veritas Pub., 1995), a book loaded with scientific-sounding language without much substance, combined with mystical testimony and several spiritual platitudes (such as love is more powerful than hate). For his efforts, Mr. Jeffrey — an excellent author, deep thinker, and creative individual — has hilariously been labelled by members of Hawkins’ devoted community as “Luciferic,” a “Spiritual Snake,” and even a “Judas!” Hawkins being seen as basically all good, anyone who disagrees with his teachings or reveals uncomfortable facts related to him, we suppose is viewed as essentially all bad (all of that taught “unconditional love” just flies right out the window!). Love itself, in the Hawkins community, appears to be more about loyalty and love for Hawkins “Himself” and his “Devotional Nonduality community,” rather than for truth and our fellow human beings, including our “enemies.”
Is pseudoscience really spiritual or magical thinking, a precursor to rationality or the transcendence of it?
Is Dr. Dyer’s work truly comparable to that of Joseph Campbell and Leo Buscaglia (that beautiful soul otherwise called “Dr. Love“), both of whom were also highly beloved and have been famously featured on public television, and who are held up by PBS executives seemingly as a possible justification for Dr. Dyer’s motivational — yet demonstrably pseudoscientific and pro-New Thought belief system — pledge-drive specials?
Let’s start the conversation!
Michael Getler, the PBS ombudsman, has stated that “self-help guru” Dr. Dyer is “certainly the king of controversy as far as my inbox goes.” (Search “Dyer” at the Ombudsman Archive to see numerous comments throughout the years regarding Dr. Dyer.) According to Getler, “Not all of the mail I get [about Dr. Dyer] is critical, some is complimentary. But the vast majority of what comes to me is disapproving.”
Keep in mind that when we buy Dr. Dyer’s “whole enchilada” or another product or package during pledge drives, Dyer is just the tip of the iceberg — sort of a relatively palatable salesman and definitely likable ambassador-evangelist — of a seemingly grand and bizarre, if often entertaining and benign, world of fringe and outlandish (and possibly harmful if followed, such as eschewing sound medical advice in favor of “intuitive wisdom” or some such [although Hay House does use disclaimers to encourage customers to consult medical authorities]) theories offered by Hay House and endorsed directly in Dyer’s products. In any case, there does seem to be something inherently damaging or possibly negligent in not encouraging critical thinking, especially for a diverse PBS audience, and maintaining that everything is “positive” despite available evidence; and to get what we “really, really, really, really want,” it is essential that we relentlessly engage in positive thinking. Do such teachings truly help people? It seems unlikely, at least in the long run.
Such a doctrine of positive thinking to get what one wants is an example of Dyer’s commitment to New Thought beliefs, such as reincarnation and manifestation or law of attraction, to which he pins an apparent diverse array of religious and psychological traditions, such that these varied traditions conform to his preconceived New Thought concepts. Since New Thought appears to be relatively unfamiliar in detail to most people, this fact will conceivably go unnoticed; but PBS ought to be held to higher standards and be cognizant of such particular religious thought systems being portrayed as religious pluralism.
Do we really need to rely on this sort of stuff to get funding for public television? Surely there are other motivational proponents of pluralistic wisdom traditions that do not willfully suspend evidence-based reasoning? (Perhaps Dyer himself could become one, possibly under PBS’ guidance? Maybe Neil deGrasse Tyson, David Pogue, Bill Nye, SciGirls, or Sid the Science Kid could lend a hand? Or might Dyer be able to channel the spirit of Carl Sagan?) For example, how about one of the numerous people who have been affiliated with the Stanford School of Medicine’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE)? Or an expert in the fascinating and burgeoning field of Positive Psychology?
It seems we must be able to bring motivation to viewers (by the way — Hello, Reader: You can do it! We Believe in You!), and funding to PBS, without having to seemingly compromise our integrity and values in the process. When you look at the lineup of PBS shows:
It seems PBS may be slipping toward the way of the History Channel, with its Ancient Aliens and other blatantly profit-motivated-over-educational programming. Also, it’s probably best not to set up in people’s minds that just because one has an advanced degree — “New Age spiritual doc (Ph.D.) Wayne Dyer” — one should necessarily be trusted as an expert in general, especially when one relies heavily on anecdotal evidence. How about a fun show on critical thinking instead, PBS? Or a more compelling and well-reasoned special involving motivational wisdom?
Dear readers, if you believe that Wayne Dyer should not be featured on PBS, or at least ought to have his programs more properly vetted — for example, by looking closely into what he is promoting before his fundraising specials are broadcast, so that the burden is not placed on unsuspecting viewers up to a decade later — please express your views to Mr. Getler. Thank you!
Additionally, please contact your local PBS station.
For a few excellent PBS programs of a religious, philosophical, and spiritual nature, consider Beyond Theology, Closer to Truth, and the classic series Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth. Such programs may not bring in as much pledge-drive funding, but at least they are more becoming our national treasure: PBS.
Readers Like You: Thank You.
[Update: We were saddened to learn of the loss of Dr. Wayne W. Dyer. Dr. Dyer taught that one should not pass with one’s music still within one, and he exemplified this teaching. He was an inspiration to us and to millions.
Note that by 2015, he had raised more than $200 million for public television stations. Despite our misgivings, we can’t help but feel of a kindred spirit with a fellow PBS lover. God bless you, Wayne Dyer.]